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At any time of the school year, you can find yourself in a study rut.

It’s common to find yourself in such a rut just before you embark on exam study — when all of your exam study is ahead of you and it’s all very overwhelming.

It’s also common to experience a study rut, or an episode of motivation-itis, part way through the semester or part way through your exam preparation — when you’re feeling a bit worn out and over it.

So how does one pull themselves out of a study rut?

How you pull yourself out of a study rut depends on what’s CAUSING you to be in the rut.

If you’re in a study rut because you’re about to embark on exam study and that’s not a fun thought —

You might be feeling this way because you have a lot of topics to cover before your exams, and you don’t know which needle in the haystack to start with. That’s more than understandable.

We have three pieces of advice for you in this instance —

1. Make sure you make an Exam Study Timetable before you start your exam study.

Once you’ve made your Exam Study Timetable (which doesn’t need to take long or be a work of art!) never again will you find yourself stuck because you don’t know what to study next. IT’S ALL THERE IN YOUR TIMETABLE!!! (Discussed in more detail in this video.)

This is one (of the many) beautiful things about an Exam Study Timetable. It sets out what specific topic for what subject you’re going to study for when, and so you should never have to scramble through the busy and stressed confines of your brain — to decide what’s next on the study agenda.

2. Start with a topic that you enjoy.

If you’re really dreading starting the exam study process, pick a topic to revise first that you actually like.

You need to do yourself little favors throughout your exam study, and starting with a topic that you’re not going to find too tedious to revise, is a great way to kick off your exam preparation.

By the time you’ve gone over that topic, you should be more motivated to start tackling other topics.

3. Just do it.

It is possible to overthink your exam study and get caught up in the preparation of it all.

But at the end of the day, you just need to start.

You need to pick a topic, read, and start writing your study notes. (More on what makes study notes effective here.)

As mentioned in point 2 above, you might like to start with a topic that you find enjoyable (or at least, more enjoyable).

Rest assured, starting is often the hardest part of studying. Before you start, you might have the inertia of a meteor embedded in the Earth’s crust, but once you start, momentum comes and you should soon find your study groove.

If you’re in a study rut because you’ve run out of motivation and you’re over it —

If you don’t feel like this at some point during the course of your exam study, well… that would be amazing.

Preparing for exams is a marathon not a sprint, and so it’s only 100% natural that there will be times when you just feel exhausted, brain-fried, knackered, bored, over it, and probably sometimes like you just want to give up altogether.

Knowing this, arm yourself this year with a few simple hacks to help you get your study groove back.

Two of our favorite re-motivators (yes I just made that term up) when we were in a study rut were:

1. Having a break.

Sometimes you just need a break, and to reset and come back to your study when you’re actually going to be productive.

This doesn’t mean you stop studying every time you’re not in the zone. But if half an hour has passed and you’ve achieved nothing, it’s probably best if you go and do something fun for half an hour, clear your head, and come back to your desk when you’re ready to focus.

2. Changing topics.

Sometimes, it doesn’t matter how hard we try, some topics just take a lot more effort to study than others. Perhaps the subject is one of your weaker areas, maybe the content of the subject is particularly hard, or maybe you’re feeling stuck on a topic for no obvious reason!

If you find yourself staring at your screen or the page in front of you, and the words just aren’t going in — even when you really try — it might be best if you give up on that topic for now, and study something easier in the meantime.

You’ll hopefully find that after a break from the challenging topic, you can come back to it later that day or another day soon, and that it doesn’t seem quite so hard.

Don’t let your study ruts defeat you

Study ruts are much easier to overcome when you accept that they’re going to happen at some point during your exam study, and when you have a few tricks up your sleeve for dealing with them.

Hopefully, these techniques will help you pull yourself out of your study ruts, and will prevent them from destroying your motivation, and wasting your precious study time.


Photo credit:
Tony Hisgett


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